FORT PIERCE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Robert L. Crowder, Sheriff, Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), announced today’s guilty plea of Robert Wesley Harden, 21, of Fort Pierce, Florida, before U.S. Magistrate Frank J. Lynch, in Ft. Pierce.
Harden pled guilty to one count of production of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, Section 2251(a). At sentencing, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and up to the statutory maximum of 30 years’ imprisonment. In addition, Harden faces a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and registration as a sex offender.
According to the criminal complaint and a stipulated factual basis in support of guilty plea filed with the court today, on October 5, 2010, ICE HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at a Port St. Lucie address, where they encountered Harden. During the execution of the search warrant, Harden admitted observing child pornography using Peer-to-Peer applications, but claimed he deleted the files after he determined it was child pornography. Harden denied communicating via the internet with any underage girls online. Harden provided the agents two of his email addresses and identified his laptop computer in his bedroom, which they seized.
A subsequent forensic examination of the Harden’s laptop revealed numerous internet chat files documenting text communications between Harden’s screen name and a 15 year old girl from Iowa. In addition, a review of the computer’s contents showed that Harden had repeatedly requested sexually explicit still pictures and web camera transmissions from the victim and her 6 year old sister. The agents also recovered sexually explicit images of the 15 and 6 year girls from Harden’s computer. Further review of Harden’s email and chat accounts revealed that Harden had assumed an online identity profile of a minor male in order to contact more than 100 separate chat room profiles of minor females. Harden solicited these minor females to take sexually explicit pictures of themselves and to send him the pictures.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Ft. Pierce and Cedar Rapids, Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa City Police Department for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carmen Lineberger.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.